We don't disagree with the decision made by many schools to not have classes on the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday, but we encourage them to include the late civil rights leader in as much classroom discussion as possible if they haven't already.
Some schools used Monday as a professional learning day for their teachers. Some schools in the South used it as a rare snow day, raising the ire of civil rights leaders there. For the schools that recognize the holiday by not having school, it's vital to set aside some classtime for activities surrounding one of the most iconic figures in American history and why we have a "holiday" for him in the first place.
Chances are, these kids don't spend their day off honoring King at all, so it's up to our schools every year to teach them about his role in American history, whether by watching video of his "I?have a dream" speech at the 1963 March on Washington, or teaching about "Big Six" civil rights groups, or about King's assassination in 1968.
It's important our children -?from kindergartners to high school seniors - understand the significance of King's speech and the work he did to promote racial equality. And it's our schools' responsibility to paint for these students a picture of life as it was in the 1960s and how much courage it took for King to do what he did and say what he said given the social backdrop of the time.
It's one thing for our young students to have a day off to honor someone like King, it's another to fully understand why they have that day off.